This weekend’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca marks the long-anticipated debut of Aston Martin into the GT ranks, with TRG-AMR entering the first GRAND-AM-specific Vantage GT3.
Recent Pirelli World Challenge race winner Brandon Davis has joined AMR factory driver Darren Turner behind the wheel of the No. 66 entry, which has been through an uphill learning curve since unloading.
The heavily revised car, featuring GRAND-AM-spec bodywork as well as the class-mandated Bosch ECU system, posted the 13th quickest time in GT in this afternoon’s practice in what’s been a learning experience for all involved thus far.
“It’s still really early days with the car in this configuration,” Turner told Sportscar365. “We came over, did a little test at Buttonwillow, more of a system checks. Now at the moment it’s a learning curve on how to make the Continental Tire work on the smaller aero package and also the Bosch system is completely different than we have on the GT3 car.
“We have to go through all of the stuff that we did with the GT3 two years ago of what makes it work in GRAND-AM spec. Every time we go out, we’re learning something new. There’s a nice, long problem list, which you always get with running a car in a different configuration.”
Turner said one of the biggest changes has been adapting to the Continental tire, especially when still searching for the overall balance of the car.
“The tires make a massive difference,” he said. “Normally when you race the car in VLN or Blancpain, the balance is very good front to rear. At the moment we can’t get the rear of the car to work. You’re driving to protect the rear.
“As soon as we can get the balance, it will be a big step forward. It may just be just one small change that suddenly lights the rears up and makes them work. That’s what we’re trying to do at the moment.”
As for the goals for tomorrow’s race, it’s clear and that’s to make it to the checkered flag.
“We have to make sure we stay out of trouble, the car runs the whole way through the race and we can see a clear amount of progress from session 1 until the end of the race.”
TRG had something to cheer about on Saturday, however, as Davis put the team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 on pole for tomorrow’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race. The two cars are running in identical liveries this weekend.